The Green New Deal first gained notoriety after activists from the Sunrise Movement, along with freshman legislator Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, held an impromptu protest in Nancy Pelosi’s office. Their ‘sit-in’ was to pressure support for a select committee to work on the Green New Deal. While ultimately unsuccessful, their push did draw enough attention to gain support from quite a few congress members. Twelve senators and a whopping ninety-one house members have since signed on as co-sponsors to the resolution.
The bold new initiative to transition the US to a clean energy, emissions-free economy within 10 years has continued to gain interest. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) and others have used that interest to put a much-needed spotlight back on climate, with an urgent call to meet the grave warnings of Climate scientists in their 2018 updated IPCC report.
While support for the Green New deal continues to grow, little focus has been on New Consensus. Many may be unaware of the little-known policy group and think tank behind the current resolution. New Consensus, however, has been steadily working behind the scenes to turn the ambitious goals of the Green New Deal into reality.
In a recent interview with Ocasio-Cortez on MS-NBC’s All in with Chris Hayes, some attention was gained for the group. The interview about the resolution included Co-Founder and Executive Director, Demond Drummer and Policy Director, Rhiana Gunn -Wright, who both spoke about their role with New Consensus. Ms. Gunn-Wright, the architect behind the current version of the plan, and its initial push promoting the Green New Deal, describes her work further in an interview with Cenk Uygur on the progressive online news site, The Young Turks ( TYT). A synopsis of what she shared on the inner workings of New Consensus and their role going forward, as well as a little about the organization itself, is below.
What is New Consensus?
New Consensus is a policy institute and think tank created by progressive activists and policy experts specifically to develop and promote the Green New Deal. Not only the birthplace of the current resolution, New Consensus has been the catalyst for “a World War Two-Scale mobilization to fix America’s Greatest problems.” according to their website. New Consensus has worked as advisers to the Justice Democrats, Sunrise Movement, AOC and others to build a “sweeping economic mobilization” for a “clean and just economy”.
New Consensus is based on the belief that the obstacles to climate reform are not technical. They are political. The old Neoliberal, “Washington Consensus” that led to incrementalism has centered around the pro-business, pro-Wall Street mindset of the political elite. That Neoliberal bubble inside the beltway directs the “economics, government, technology, labor and business” priorities that often stand in the way of fixing systemic economic problems exacerbated by climate change.
As more people move away from the status quo mentality of Neoliberalism, a new world view has begun to emerged with a different set of priorities. From this, New Consensus formed. The focus of the group has been on the critical role that government and public institutions must play in transforming our economy and society to a more sustainable, equitable system, just as they have done during times of great change in America’s past.
“New consensus thinkers are exploring how government and other public institutions can lead the transition to a green economy, close wealth and income gaps between groups, spearhead innovation and research, kick-start new high wage industries, and more.”
What’s Next for New Consensus & the Green New Deal?
March has been a busy month for New Consensus. They have been hard at work developing a plan for bringing experts, activists, and people in front-line communities together to create the critical policies and legislation needed to implement the fourteen goals outlined in the Green New Deal. While still in the initial development stage, policy reforms and legislation remain several months away. However, Policy Director Rhiana Gunn-Wright did share a few of the priorities for the Green New Deal in her interview with Cenk Uygur, outlined here.
- Develop Policies to create a smart grid and/or decarbonize the electricity sector.
- Investments in distributed renewable and solar energy.
- A look towards energy governance and how to make energy systems more efficient.
- Investment in a clean, affordable public transit system using zero-emissions vehicles and high-speed rail.
- Adoption and employment of Electric Vehicles (E Vs)
- Find better ways to use bio-fuels, offset emissions, and other ways to decarbonize air travel.
- Upgrade and develop new sustainable infrastructure.
- Public investments, beyond just highways and roads. Identifying what sort of investments are needed to reduce energy use.
- A look towards land use and how to create more energy efficient communities.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the lofty, yet incredibly urgent goals outlined in the Green New Deal. To learn more about New Consensus and their efforts to mobilize a mass movement around the Green New Deal Resolution, their nifty 2-page guide on their site can help. For a more detailed, in-depth view, here’s a link to the fourteen-page outline of the goals, specific projects, and mobilization efforts that they are working on.
You can also find additional information about the Green New Deal Resolution on the various websites listed in this article, and from the TYT-Army website. Check in for future updates here as well!